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A Global Warning from Our Oceans

Essay by   •  January 14, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,749 Words (7 Pages)  •  4,693 Views

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There have been considerable amounts of evidence that points to the melting polar ice caps as the main culprit to our planets global warming. What is it though that is causing our polar ice caps to melt? The human race constantly releases greenhouse gases into our atmosphere that trap heat in our ozone layer. This heat increases global temperature and melts away a lot of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica very rapidly and causes sea levels in our oceans to rise. Water also expands slightly when warmed and causes the sea level to rise too. These frightening revelations of elevated sea levels come from our oceans and have been showing us a global warning of things to come. There are some things that we can do to help prevent the advancement of global warming. But have the effects already advanced too far for us to correct? Many computer generated simulations can help us estimate the rate of rising global sea levels but no one can accurately show us the true rate of the increase in temperature.

Since 1870 global sea levels have risen about 20cm and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that the global sea level will rise an estimated 9-88cm between 1990 and 2100. Key contributors to the rise in sea level are the massive glaciers that are sliding into the ocean in Greenland and Antarctica. Just the melting of these glaciers will account for about 10 to 20cm of sea level rise. What causes these glaciers to just slide into the ocean? Melting water travels through crevices in the ice sheets and make its base slippery making it easier for these glaciers to slide right into the ocean. The melting ice sheets and past greenhouse gas emissions will continue to contribute to the rise of sea level. Even if we can stabilize the concentration of greenhouse emissions, we will be feeling the effects of past emissions for centuries to come.

For every meter that the sea level rises about 50-100 me-ters of low lying coastal areas get decimated. Wendy Pyper re-ports of the consequences of a 1 meter seal level rise, "These consequences will affect, among other things, biodiversity, ecosystem function, tourism, traditional culture, real estate prices, insurance premiums, and emergency planning services" (137). Some places like Australia are preparing for coastal erosion by adding sand to their beaches to protect their low lying coastal regions.

Some global warnings of warming come from natural disas-ters. Hurricane Katrina is an example of the effects of warming waters in the Gulf Coast. The warming of waters in the Gulf Coast generates energy for stronger and more destructive storms to come in the future. New Orleans is a city placed in a region that is a disaster waiting to happen. The city itself is already 17 feet below sea level and continues to sink at a rate of about an inch a year. Global warming warns us of many disasters to come and is probably too late to prevent from happening. For the residents of New Orleans it will take a massive relocation of all the residents to avoid certain doom. The reality that another more powerful hurricane will ravage the area is inevitable because of the rising sea levels.

As storms around the world become more disastrous the media tends to portray them as "natural" incidences. Even though these storms are happening due in part to global warming, the media needs to bring the facts to the attention of all the people. The patterns of these storms continue to become more severe and coincide with the gradual warming of our planet. These severe storms are the obvious result of our greenhouse emissions. There are a couple of things we can do as individuals to reduce greenhouse emissions. One person making an effort to reduce the effect of global warming can make a difference even if it seems like a little. More people are concerned now of global warming and believe that it will have an impact on future generations. A poll taken just before Hurricane Katrina hit the country stated,"59 percent of Americans said they believed global warming threatens future generations. Now, the response is over 85 percent" (Loeb 41). As storms get worse and happen more frequently, we are constantly reminded with a wake-up call that global warming is a serious threat to the future of the human race.

Global warming is generally negative in nature but is something that is inevitable. Now imagine a world after most of the polar ice caps had melted. Who would benefit from global warming and who would be the losers? Many of the areas that were too cold to live before would now be warmer and skyrocket in value. The warmer temperature in those areas would appeal to those that lost their homes in the submerged coastal areas. There are so many coastal cities that lie currently at almost sea level. And if there were a sea level rise of about 3 feet, which is predicted to happen by 2100, then there would be millions of global refugees. Places that were impossible to grow a certain farming crop would certainly be easier to farm with the rise of temperatures.

Before any of this can happen there are measures that we as a society can take to combat the effects of global warming. In 1997 a policy called the Kyoto Protocol was ratified by dozens of industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse emissions to 1990 level by 2012. This is one of the most significant policies to reduce the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Ironically the United States, the global leader in greenhouse gas emissions, has not of yet ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Although there haven't been any legislation passed to help reduce American greenhouse emissions, many business corporations have made a concerted effort through a green initiative to help comply with green environmental standards. Besides the efforts of these businesses, we as a people need to try and make a concerted



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